|Publication number||US7531271 B2|
|Application number||US 10/914,738|
|Publication date||May 12, 2009|
|Filing date||Aug 9, 2004|
|Priority date||Mar 18, 2004|
|Also published as||CN101002346A, EP1779447A2, US20050208381, WO2006020419A2, WO2006020419A3, WO2006020419A8|
|Publication number||10914738, 914738, US 7531271 B2, US 7531271B2, US-B2-7531271, US7531271 B2, US7531271B2|
|Inventors||Jonathan M. Boulton, Stuart M. Davis, George Cintra, Leslie Pinnell, Charles E. O'Brien|
|Original Assignee||The Gillette Company|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (23), Non-Patent Citations (3), Referenced by (2), Classifications (49), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a continuation in part of application Ser. No. 10/803438, filed Mar. 18, 2004 now U.S. Pat. No. 7,413,828.
The invention relates to a wafer alkaline battery having a substantially laminar construction and a high aspect ratio of area to thickness. The invention relates to a wafer alkaline cell wherein the anode or cathode current collector is precoated with a sealing metal forming an alkaline resistant metal oxide film to improve bonding. The invention relates to a wafer alkaline cell wherein the anode comprises zinc and the cathode comprises manganese dioxide.
Conventional alkaline electrochemical cells have an anode comprising zinc and a cathode comprising manganese dioxide and alkaline electrolyte. The cell is typically formed of a cylindrical outer housing. The fresh cell has an open circuit voltage (EMF) of about 1.6 volt and typical average running voltage of between about 1.0 to 1.2 Volts in medium drain service (100 to 300 milliamp). The cylindrical housing is initially formed with an enlarged open end and opposing closed end. After the cell contents are supplied, an end cap assembly with insulating grommet and negative terminal end cap is inserted into the housing open end. The open end is closed by crimping the housing edge over an edge of the insulating grommet and radially compressing the housing around the insulating grommet to provide a tight seal. The insulating grommet electrically insulates the negative end cap from the cell housing. A portion of the cell housing at the opposing closed end forms the positive terminal.
Conventional alkaline cells of cylindrical shape are available in a variety of commonly recognizable sizes, namely, AAAA, AAA, AA, C and D size cells. In commonly assigned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/722879 filed Nov. 26, 2003 a laminar cell is described wherein the cell contents are encased in a solid metal casing. The metal casing has an integral body surface having a closed end and opposing open end. The cell contents are inserted into the open end, which is then sealed with an end cap. The end cap is designed with a metal skirt, a plastic insulating grommet, and a metal post or rivet, disposed within the grommet. The metal skirt is compressed around the insulating grommet and the grommet is compressed around the metal post to form an alkali resistant seal at both interfaces. The metal skirt of the end cap assembly is then joined to the metal casing by welding.
It becomes increasingly more difficult to fill such cells with anode and cathode material as the desired cell thickness becomes smaller, for example, much under about 6 mm. Thus, there is a need for a flat or laminar alkaline cell, which may be readily fabricated and filled with cell contents even at cell thickness less than about 6 mm, for example, between about 0.5 mm and 6 mm, desirably between about 1.5 and 4 mm. This will make the thin, prismatic alkaline cell available for use as a primary (nonrechargeable) power source or as a back up power source for small electronic devices which may normally be powered by a thin, rechargeable cell, such as a thin lithium-ion cell. By suitable adjustment of the cell chemistry and internal components, a thin alkaline rechargeable cell could also be constructed. Many electronic devices, such as portable radios, audio players, and communication devices have become smaller and thinner in recent years. Thus, there is a need for thin, laminar, wafer cells of small overall thickness for use in such small electronic devices.
Primary alkaline electrochemical cells typically include a zinc anode active material, an alkaline electrolyte, a manganese dioxide cathode active material, and an electrolyte permeable separator film, typically of cellulose or cellulosic and polyvinyl alcohol fibers. The anode active material can include for example, zinc particles admixed with conventional gelling agents, such as sodium carboxymethyl cellulose or the sodium salt of an acrylic acid copolymer, and an electrolyte. The gelling agent serves to suspend the zinc particles and to maintain them in contact with one another. Typically, a conductive metal nail inserted into the anode active material serves as the anode current collector, which is electrically connected to the negative terminal end cap. The electrolyte can be an aqueous solution of an alkali metal hydroxide for example, potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide or lithium hydroxide. The cathode typically includes particulate manganese dioxide as the electrochemically active material admixed with an electrically conductive additive, typically graphite material, to enhance electrical conductivity. Optionally, small amount of polymeric binders, for example polyethylene binder and other additives, such as titanium-containing compounds can be added to the cathode.
The manganese dioxide used in the cathode is preferably electrolytic manganese dioxide (EMD) which is made by direct electrolysis of a bath of manganese sulfate and sulfuric acid. The EMD is desirable, since it has a high density and high purity. The electrical conductivity (1/resistivity) of EMD is fairly low. An electrically conductive material is added to the cathode mixture to improve the electric conductivity between individual manganese dioxide particles. Such electrically conductive additive also improves electric conductivity between the manganese dioxide particles and the cell housing, which also serves as cathode current collector in conventional cylindrical alkaline cells. Suitable electrically conductive additives can include, for example, graphite, graphitic material, conductive carbon powders, such as carbon blacks, including acetylene blacks. Preferably the conductive material comprises flaky crystalline natural graphite, or flaky crystalline synthetic graphite, or expanded or exfoliated graphite or graphitic carbon nanofibers and mixtures thereof.
There are small sized rectangular shaped rechargeable batteries now available, which are used to power small electronic devices such as MP3 audio players and mini disk (MD) players. These batteries are typically small and of rectangular shape (cuboid) somewhat the size of a pack of chewing gum. The term “cuboid” as used herein shall mean its normal geometrical definition, namely, a “rectangular parallelepiped”. Such batteries, for example, can be in the form of rechargeable nickel metal hydride (NiMH) size F6 or 7/5F6 size cuboids in accordance with the standard size for such batteries as set forth by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The F6 size has a thickness of 6.0 mm, width of 17.0 mm and length of 35.7 mm (without label). There is a version of the F6 size wherein the length can be as great as about 48.0 mm. The 7/5-F6 size has thickness of 6.0 mm, width of 17.0 mm, and length of 67.3 mm. The average running voltage of the F6 or 7/5F6 NiMH rechargeable batteries when used to power miniature digital audio players such as an MP3 audio player or mini disk (MD) players is between about 1.0 and 1.2 volt typically about 1.12 volt.
When used to power the mini disk (MD) player the battery is drained at a rate of between about 200 and 250 milliAmp. When used to power a digital audio MP3 player the battery is drained typically at a rate of about 100 milliAmp.
It would be desirable to have a small flat alkaline battery of the same size and shape as small size cuboid shaped (rectangular parallelepiped) nickel metal hydride batteries, so that the small alkaline size battery can be used interchangeably with the nickel metal hydride battery to power small electronic devices such as mini disk or MP3 players.
As above mentioned it would also be desirable to have a wafer alkaline cell of overall thickness less than 6 mm, for example, between about 0.5 and 6 mm, preferably between about 1.5 and 4 mm.
It is desired that the wafer cell be designed to minimize or greatly reduce the chance of electrolyte leakage. In references M. Hull, H. James, “Why Alkaline Cells Leak” Journal of the Electrochemical Society, Vol. 124, No. 3, March 1977, pps. 332-329) and S. Davis, M. Hull, “Aspects of Alkaline Cell Leakage”, Journal of the Electrochemical Society, Vol. 125, No. 12, December 1978) one aspect of alkaline cell leakage is explained in terms of the electrochemical reduction of atmospheric oxygen in the presence of adsorbed moisture, on the negative, exterior cell terminal to form OH− ions. These electrochemically generated OH− ions then attract hydrated positive ions such as K(H2O)x + or Na(H2O)x +. The K(H2O)x + or Na(H2O)x + ions originate from the cell interior, migrating across the negative seal surface to the cell exterior, in order to maintain electrical neutrality in the adsorbed film of moisture. The net result is to draw KOH or NaOH electrolyte from the cell interior to the terminal surface and thus in effect to promote migration or creepage of such electrolyte from the cell interior to the terminal surface.
It is also desired that such thin wafer cells should contain enough active material to serve as a long lived power source for a power consuming device. Thus, while thin, the wafer cells should also possess a projected area and a sufficiently large interior volume to contain enough active materials to deliver electrical energy at a substantial rate and for a substantial time.
In the discussion that follows, a wafer cell shall mean a thin, laminar unit cell. The cell may have one or more of its surfaces flat or curved or randomly distorted. The cell may have a uniform thickness or its thickness may vary from point to point. The cell may be symmetrical or unsymmetrical with regard to any point, axis or plane. The “footprint” of the cell is defined as the maximum, orthogonal projected area of the cell on any plane surface, when all possible orientations of the cell have been considered.
The edges of the cell are the outer surfaces, one or more of which will constitute the thickness dimension depending on cell shape. In the case of a cell with varying thickness, the thickness will have a maximum value at some given point. The face of the cell is the one outer surface which defines the footprint of the cell and which has a nominally perpendicular thickness axis. In the case where the cell is flat and of uniform thickness, the area of either face will equal that of the cell footprint. In the case where the cell is either curved, or of non-uniform thickness, or both, the area of either face may match, or exceed that of the cell footprint. In a similar manner, the edges of the cell need not be of uniform thickness.
It would be desirable that such wafer cell be readily manufactured to conform to various overall shapes and sizes, for example, wherein at least one of the sides is polygonal or alternatively circular, oval or at least partially curvilinear.
Thus, it would be desirable to have such wafer cell to be readily manufactured, to enable easy insertion of the cell contents even at such small cell thickness of less than 6 mm. The wafer cell must yet be sturdy and durable enough to withstand internal pressure from evolved gas, resist damage from mechanical abuse and handling and avoid any electrolyte leakage due to seal failure.
A principal aspect of the invention is directed to a primary or secondary wafer alkaline cell. The wafer cell is designed to function as a source of electrical energy, comprising a negative and a positive terminal, and a pair of opposing sides comprising at least the majority of the boundary surface of said cell. The opposing sides define at some point an average short cell dimension (the thickness) therebetween. The cell comprises an anode assembly and a cathode assembly bonded together to form a laminate structure.
In one aspect the cell can be of a substantially laminar construction which includes various seal interfaces between the conductive and non-conductive elements therein. A sealant is disposed within these interfaces which is resistant to alkaline electrolyte. The seal interfaces containing sealant are protected from peeling and shearing forces through mechanical design features or by the use of a structural adhesive. A novel cell design and over-wrap design is employed to assure that the potential leakage path from the cell interior to either of the two cell terminals is substantially longer than the battery thickness dimension.
In a principal aspect the wafer alkaline cell of the invention has an anode comprising zinc, a cathode comprising manganese dioxide and an alkaline electrolyte, preferably aqueous potassium hydroxide. However, the wafer alkaline cell may have anode and cathode of other active materials and other alkaline electrolytes are possible. For example, the anode may comprise zinc, cadmium or metal hydride alloy and the cathode may comprise manganese dioxide, nickel oxyhydroxide, silver oxide (Ag2O or AgO alone or in admixture), copper oxide (CuO), silver copper oxide (AgCuO2 or Ag2Cu2O3 alone or in admixture with each other or in admixture with MnO2) . Each one of the above listed anode materials can be matched up with each one of the above listed cathode materials. The alkaline electrolyte may comprise sodium hydroxide or mixtures of sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide, which reduces the tendency of the electrolyte to migrate from the cell interior. The wafer cell may also be in the form of a rechargeable battery.
Included within the anode assembly or within the cathode assembly is a separator layer which may be an ion permeable film, membrane or non-woven fabric. Alternatively, the separator layer may be situated between the anode and cathode assemblies and in some embodiments may project into a portion of the seal area formed by the mating surfaces of the anode and cathode assemblies.
In a specific embodiment the cell is in the shape of a cuboid. The cell may have a shallow thickness, for example between about 0.5 to 6 mm, for example, between about 1.5 and 6 mm, typically between about 1.5 to 4 mm.
In a principal aspect of the invention the anode assembly comprises a housing for said anode, and the cathode assembly comprises a housing for said cathode. A separator layer may be disposed within the anode or cathode assembly so as to face the opposite assembly or the separator may be disposed in between these two assemblies. The anode and cathode assemblies are preferably adhesively bonded together with the separator situated in between the anode and cathode active materials to form a durable, and preferably rigid, compact, laminate structure.
In an aspect of the invention the anode housing, forming a part of the anode assembly, comprises an anode frame, preferably of durable organic polymer material, e.g. a plastic, having an inner peripheral edge defining the boundary of an anode cavity. The frame has a front side and opposing back side along said peripheral edge. An anode current collector sheet is bonded to the back side of the frame so that it faces an outer surface boundary of the cell. The anode material is inserted into said anode cavity so that it is in contact with said anode current collector sheet. The anode current collector sheet is electrically conductive, preferably a metal of copper, brass (alloy of copper and zinc), bronze (alloy of copper and tin), tin or zinc, or of copper or brass plated with zinc, tin, silver, indium or bismuth or combinations of these metals.
The cathode housing, which forms part of the cathode assembly, comprises a cathode frame, preferably of durable plastic, having an inner peripheral edge defining the boundary of a cathode cavity. The frame has a front side and opposing back side along said peripheral edge. A cathode current collector sheet is bonded to the back side of the frame so that it faces an outer surface boundary of the cell. Cathode material is inserted into the cathode cavity so that it is in contact with said cathode current collector sheet. The cathode current collector sheet is preferably of nickel, nickel plated steel or a carbon coated metal sheet, preferably a carbon coated or carbonized nickel sheet. Alternatively, the cathode current collector sheet may be of cold rolled steel, which is plated or clad with nickel. The nickel may be overlayed with carbon, or a layer of cobalt and then a layer of carbon over the cobalt. In another embodiment, the cathode current collector may be overlayed with carbon and then coated with a carbon containing paint.
In another aspect a single frame may be used instead of separate anode and cathode frames. In such embodiment the single frame construction, preferably of plastic, has the advantage that the anode material and cathode can be packed into opposite sides of the single frame avoiding the need to bond individual frames together.
An advantage of the laminate wafer cell structure of the invention is that a cell of essentially any footprint size ranging from very small, e.g., 1 cm2 to very large, e.g. 600 cm2, but yet of small overall thickness, e.g. between about 1.5 and 6 mm, typically between about 1.5 and 4 mm, may be readily fabricated. The cell thickness could even be lower, for example, to as low as about 0.5 mm. Thus the cell can be easily fitted into cavities of electronic devices having small overall thickness. Another advantage of the laminate cell structure is that it may be made to essentially any desired overall shape, for example, polygonal, oval, circular, curvilinear, or partially polygonal and partially curvilinear. The laminate cell of the invention is durable and tightly bonded so that it may be exposed to hot and cold climates and atmospheres of high and low humidity and still resist electrolyte leakage.
In the wafer cell of the invention the chance of electrolyte leakage is reduced by three methods:
1) By creating a very tightly bonded and essentially electrolyte impermeable seal between the cell interior and the anode and cathode current collector sheets.
2) By creating a very long, tortuous path (leakage blocking path) which electrolyte from within the cell would have to take in order to escape from the cell. The total leakage blocking path consists of the sum of the frame width plus the distance from the outer edge of the frame to the exposed cell terminal.
3) By decreasing the surface area of the exposed exterior negative contact to a minimum, thereby decreasing the overall rate of OH− generation on the exterior negative contact surface.
With respect to electrolyte leak reduction method 1, a tightly bonded, electrolyte impermeable seal is accomplished in the wafer cell of the invention preferably by employing a staged adhesive seal between the edge of the frame and the edge of each of the anode and cathode current collector sheets. The staged seal comprises at least two coatings of different adhesives in a juxtaposed (side by side) arrangement along the edges of the plastic frame in order to bond the current collector sheets to their respective frame. The outer adhesive coating is preferably a structural type adhesive such as an epoxy. Such adhesive imparts structural strength to the laminar cell construction. The inner coating is preferably a adhesive-sealant which may, for example, be a polyamide or functionalized polyethylene, or asphalt. Such sealant coating improves overall bonding but its principal function is to seal out electrolyte. Alternatively, rivets can be employed in addition to or in place of the structural adhesive and the sealant coating can be applied to the portion of the frame between the rivets.
It has been determined that the sealing properties at the interface between the anode current collector sheet and plastic anode frame can be improved by precoating the inside surface of anode current collector sheet with a thin layer of a sealing metal before adhesives are used to bond the anode current collector sheet to the anode frame. Thus, instead of contacting the anode current collector surface directly, adhesives, such as the above mentioned staged adhesives, will contact the sealing metal precoated onto the anode current collector sheet. This has been determined to improve the sealing properties, particularly the long term strength and bond uniformity of the adhesive seal at the interface between the anode current collector sheet and plastic anode frame.
As above described the plastic anode frame surface is bonded to the anode current collector sheet by use of an adhesive therebetween. While a single homogenous adhesive may be used, it is preferred as above indicated to employ a staged seal, that is, two different adhesives in lateral side by side arrangement at the interface between the anode frame and anode current collector sheet being bonded. It has been determined that if the portion of the anode current collector surface in contact with the adhesive is precoated with a specific sealing metal or alternatively if the anode current collector sheet is itself is composed of such sealing metal, the adhesive/metal interface can withstand degradation better over long periods of time, for example, multiple years. A strong, uniform bond between the plastic anode frame and anode current collector sheet is thus preserved over long periods of time reducing the chance of electrolyte leakage through such interface.
By way of example, if the anode current collector sheet is of copper, brass, bronze, tin or zinc, as above enumerated, then magnesium, zirconium or titanium is a preferred sealing metal to be precoated onto that portion of the anode current collector surface in contact with the adhesive bonding the plastic anode frame to the anode current collector. (Magnesium or zirconium has been determined to be a particularly preferred sealing metal for current collector sheets of copper or brass.) Thus, the adhesive, whether a homogenous adhesive or a staged adhesive is used to bond the plastic anode frame to the anode current collector sheet, said adhesive will be in direct contact with the magnesium or zirconium sealing metal precoated onto the facing surface (normally the inside surface facing the cell interior) of the current collector sheet. Such interface bond between the sealing metal and the adhesive appears to withstand degradation over long periods of time thus preserving the bond between the plastic anode frame and anode current collector sheet of the alkaline wafer cell better than if the anode current collector sheet were not precoated with the sealing metal.
Although the preferred sealing metals such as magnesium or zirconium are in their pure elemental form, it is not intended to restrict the sealing metal to pure elemental metals, since alloys of magnesium or zirconium may also be employed. In such case it is preferred to have the magnesium or zirconium or combination thereof as a major component of the alloy. However, benefits can also be realized if the magnesium or zirconium or combination thereof is a minor component of the alloy.
The sealing metal may be applied to anode current collector sheet in a thin coating by utilizing conventional techniques such as, but not necessarily limited to vacuum deposition, sputtering, ion plating, plasma deposition, jet assisted plasma deposition, sintering, cold metal spraying, detonation gun spraying, high velocity oxygen fuel spraying, electroplating(from non-aqueous electrolyte) or by hot dipping (dipping the anode current collector sheet into a bath of the molten sealing metal). The sealing metal may be applied to the inside surface of anode current collector sheet in a uniform thickness of preferably between about 0.10 micron to 50 microns, for example, about 3 micron.
Although magnesium or zirconium are preferred sealing metals for use in the context of the alkaline wafer cell of the invention, other metals can also be used in similar manner with similar beneficial results as a precoat on the anode current collector surface before adhesive is applied thereto to bond the plastic anode frame to the current collector. The list of such sealing metals include magnesium (Mg), zirconium (Zr), titanium (Ti), hafnium (Hf), scandium (Sc), and yttrium (Y) and the lanthanide series elements (La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Pm, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, Lu). Of these elements magnesium (Mg), titanium (Ti), zirconium (Zr), hafnium (Hf), and yttrium (Y) are preferred considering the overall factors of availability, function, and cost.
The present invention is not intended to be restricted to any particular plastic or polymeric material for the anode frame. The anode frame may be composed of a wide variety of plastic materials as long as the plastic is durable and generally resistant to attack by alkaline electrolyte. A preferred material for anode frame for example, is high impact polystyrene (HIPS), acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), polysulfone, or polyvinyl-chloride (PVC) plastic.
Generally, newly fabricated metal sheets or metal structures quickly develop a native metal oxide or metal hydroxide film on their surfaces when exposed to ambient air. Such native metal oxide or hydroxide film can be removed only temporarily and with difficulty in a substantial vacuum in the presence of pure inert gas, in the total absence of traces of water and oxygen. When adhesive or adhesive sealant material is applied to such surfaces an adhesive bond is formed which chemically involves the native metal oxide or metal hydroxide film. The presence of the native metal oxide or metal hydroxide film on the metal sheet or metal structure plays an important role in chemically bonding an adhesive coated plastic surface to the metal structure. That is, chemical bonds between the adhesive and metal oxide or hydroxide are formed in the bonding process. This is generally true of essentially all adhesives or adhesive sealants including the above listed staged adhesive sealants preferred in bonding the plastic anode frame to the anode current collector sheet. However, if any portion of such plastic to metal bonds are exposed to alkaline electrolyte within the alkaline wafer cell, or in general in any alkaline cell, the native metal oxide or hydroxide may be attacked thus gradually weakening the bond. It has been determined that some metal oxides or hydroxides are less prone to attack by alkaline electrolyte than others primarily because they are less soluble in alkaline electrolyte than other metal oxides.
It has been discovered that the above enumerated sealing metals, particularly magnesium and zirconium, when coated onto the surface of an anode current collector sheet, develop a magnesium oxide or hydroxide or zirconium oxide film on the surface of the current collector sheet. Such magnesium oxide or hydroxide or zirconium oxide film is less soluble in the presence of alkaline electrolyte than the native metal oxide film. For example, if the anode current collector sheet is of copper or an alloy of copper (such as brass or bronze) the magnesium oxide or hydroxide or zirconium oxide film which develops on the surface of current collector sheet is less soluble in alkaline electrolyte than the native oxide film, e.g. copper oxide, or copper oxide+zinc oxide, or copper oxide+tin oxide. In this regard precoating the anode current collector sheet with a sealing metal, such as magnesium or zirconium or other of the above enumerated sealing metals, preserves the interfacial adhesive bond against the metal current collector better in an alkaline environment than if the anode current collector sheet was not so precoated, unless of course the current collector sheet itself was formed of the sealing metal.
Another way that an adhesive to metal interfacial bond can be degraded over time is if the native metal oxide or hydroxide film on the surface of the metal being bonded is subjected to oxidation or to reduction due to the environment in which it resides. In terms of bonding the plastic anode frame to the anode current collector sheet in the context of the wafer alkaline cell of the invention, a native oxide or hydroxide film may have a tendency to be reduced by the zinc in the anode if the native metal in the oxide or hydroxide has a more positive electrochemical potential than the zinc. Reduction to a lower oxide or to the metal itself causes volume shrinkage and degradation or loss of the adhesive within the metal interfacial bond. The above enumerated sealing metals, including the preferred metals magnesium and zirconium, have a more negative potential than zinc and therefore cannot be reduced by the zinc. Thus precoating the metal current collector typically of copper or copper alloy (brass or bronze), or tin with a sealing metal such as magnesium or zirconium protects the adhesive to metal interfacial bond from deterioration. This is because oxides or hydroxides of the above listed sealing metals such as magnesium and zirconium are not reduced by direct contact with the zinc anode material or when held at the zinc anode potential in a common body of electrolyte.
The above defined sealing metals apply to alkaline cells in general, regardless of cell configuration. The alkaline cell as defined herein is an “electrochemical cell, which is a primary or rechargeable cell employing an alkaline electrolyte therein”. The electrolyte typically comprises aqueous potassium hydroxide but may comprise other alkaline components, for example, sodium hydroxide or lithium hydroxide, and mixtures thereof. A metal/air cell, for example, the zinc/air cell, commonly in the form of a button cell used for hearing aids, is also an alkaline cell because it employs alkaline electrolyte in admixture with the zinc anode active material. The zinc/air cell may also be in the form of elongated cylindrical configurations or other configurations, all of which may be regarded as alkaline cells because of the use of alkaline electrolyte therein. Commercial alkaline cells typically have an anode comprising zinc, usually in particulate form admixed with gelling agent and alkaline electrolyte. The cathode may typically comprise manganese dioxide, nickel oxyhydroxide and the like, as cathode active material. Such cells are considered alkaline cells because of the use of alkaline electrolyte therein.
The alkaline cell has an anode current collector, typically in the form of an elongated metallic member, for example, such as a metallic nail, cup shaped metallic member or metallic sheet. The term “anode current collector” as used herein is an electrically conductive member, normally of metal, having one portion in contact with at least a portion of the anode and another portion in contact with the cell's negative terminal. The anode current collector provides a continuous electrically conductive pathway from the anode to the cell's negative terminal. In some alkaline cells, for example, alkaline button cells such as the zinc/air button cell, the anode casing itself serves as the anode current collector. In alkaline cells a portion of the anode current collector passes through or abuts an electrically insulating member, typically of organic polymeric or plastic material, which electrically insulates the anode current collector from the cell's positive side. This is often referred to in the art as the “negative feed through portion”. A portion of the anode current collector (negative feed through) is typically bonded with adhesive material (e.g., asphalt or polyamide based sealant) to the insulating member to provide a good seal therebetween. By precoating said portion of the anode current collector (negative feed through portion) with the above defined sealing metal of the invention, particularly magnesium, zirconium, or titanium, the adhesive bond between the anode current collector and insulating member becomes more alkaline resistant and generally resists degradation better over time than if that portion of the anode current collector were not so precoated with sealing metal. Alternatively, the anode current collector itself as a whole or the portion being bonded to the insulating member may itself be formed of the sealing metal. In this manner the adhesive seal between anode current collector and insulating member is improved and the chance of electrolyte leakage therethrough is reduced.
With respect to electrolyte leak reduction method 2, this involves providing an increased length or relatively long blockage path to reduce the chance of electrolyte leaking from the cell interior to the external environment. In this respect it has been determined desirable to set the length of any potential leakage path, measured from the edge of either active electrode to its corresponding terminal contact on the exterior of the battery, to be substantially greater than the overall cell thickness. In a preferred embodiment herein, the ratio of potential leakage path (leakage block path) to battery thickness is greater than 1.5 and more preferably is greater than 2.
This is achieved by two different means, which may be employed separately or in a cooperative fashion.
In the first means, the width of the plastic frame provides a first leakage block path A. The width of the plastic frame (leakage block path A) is measured from the frame's inner peripheral edge (in contact with battery active material and electrolyte) to its outer peripheral edge, and should be set to approximately as long or longer than the thickness dimension of the cell. Thus, for a 3 mm (⅛″) thick cell, the width (A) of the frame is desirably approximately 3 mm (⅛″) or greater. While it would be desirable to increase the frame width (leakage block path A) to a maximum in order to deter leakage, it will be appreciated that this will come at the expense of the internal volume available for active material within the cell. Thus, for a given cell footprint (cell side parallel or substantially parallel to the face of the anode or cathode frame), there is an upper limit to the width of the frame that will allow a reasonable amount of active material to be packed into the cell.
In the second means, the exterior surfaces of the cell are desirably covered with a plastic film, adhered to the exterior surfaces of the cell by a sealant, including all of the exposed edges of the plastic frames and also most of the surface of the two conductive endplates (current collector sheets), excluding only a small terminal contact area on each endplate, located at a distance from the outer peripheral edge of the frame. In a preferred embodiment, the exposed contact, e.g. the negative contact, is located on a conductive endplate at the greatest possible distance from all of the outer edges of the frame. Thus, there is defined a distance B from the outer peripheral edge of the anode frame to the exposed negative contact which is at least as long as the cell thickness. The distance B, defines the length of a second electrolyte leak block path (block path B). The distance B is traversed by a film wrap or tape, preferably comprising first and second overlayed shrink film wrap bands, preferably having sealant therebetween and between the first wrap and the cell surface. The sealant between the first film band and the cell and sealant between the two film bands helps to achieve superior electrolyte blocking properties, preventing or greatly retarding the chance of electrolyte leakage along path B. The first plastic film wrap is preferably a shrink band of plastic tubing (peripheral band)applied around the periphery (edges) of the cell. The central axis of the unshrunk band is oriented parallel to the thickness direction. After shrinking, this band covers and adheres to most of the sealant bearing exterior surfaces, including all of the edges and a substantial fraction of the conductive endplates. The cell terminal contact areas are excluded (these remain bare). Thus the potential leakage path is further extended from the outer peripheral edge of the frames towards the vicinity of the cell terminals.
A second plastic film wrap, preferably a shrink band of plastic tubing (lateral band), is applied to the cell, at right angles to the first band. The central axis of the unshrunk band is oriented perpendicular to the thickness dimension. The second shrink wrap (lateral band) is shrunk tight, covering the majority of the remaining exposed surface. The lateral band is furnished with small punched or cut holes which register with the sealant free contact areas on the outer metal endplates, thus exposing the cell terminals. The first and second shrink wrap bands (peripheral band and lateral band), together, cover the entire exterior surface of the cell, with the exception of the cell terminals.
To further enhance leakage resistance, prior to applying the 2nd lateral band, the exterior surfaces of the first shrink wrap band (peripheral band) may be coated with additional sealant, thus effecting a seal between the exterior of the first band (peripheral band) and the second band (lateral band). This assures that the only remaining exit points for any leaked electrolyte are the exposed cell contacts.
In the case where there are separate anode and cathode frames bonded together the first electrolyte leak block path (block path A) as referenced herein may be defined as having a length equal to the width of the anode frame peripheral edge, that is, the width of the frame edge that surrounds the hollow space within the frame. (However, it will be understood that by analogy the width of the cathode frame determines the first block path A on the cathode side of the cell.) In the case where there is a single common frame for housing both the anode and cathode material the first electrolyte leak block path (block path A) is defined as having a length equal to the edge width of this common frame. The second electrolyte leak block path (block path B) as above mentioned is measured as the distance from the outer peripheral edge boundary of the anode frame to the exposed negative contact on the cell surface. The total electrolyte leak block paths A+B is desirably at least between about 1.5 to 4 times the cell thickness and can be even greater for cells having very high footprint area.
With regard to leakage reduction method 3 this is achieved by minimizing the area of the exterior negative contact in proportion to the total area of the cell footprint. Thus, by covering as much of the exterior surface of the negative contact as possible, employing sealant and plastic film, the ratio of exposed contact area to cell footprint area is minimized. Preferably this ratio is less than 5% (for a cell having 1 cm2 to 14.5 cm2 footprint), more preferably less than 1% (for a cell having 14.5 cm2 to 603 cm2 footprint) and most preferably less than 0.1% (for a cell of 603 cm2 or larger footprint).
The arrangement so described is applicable to wafer cells of the invention having various shapes such as square, rectangular, polygonal, circular or elliptical and surfaces which may be flat or curved.
The total leakage path consists of the sum of the frame width plus the distance from the outer edge of the frame to the cell terminal. In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the total leakage path is at least twice the thickness dimension of the cell. More preferably, the total leakage path is at least 3 times the thickness dimension of the cell and most preferably the total leakage path is at least 4 times the thickness dimension of the cell. By covering the cell exterior with sealant and plastic film, the potential leakage path is further extended from the outer peripheral edge of the frames to the cell terminals. Utilizing the design principles herein disclosed, thin alkaline cells of very large area, e.g. 8.5 in×11 in or 93.5 in2 (approx. 21.6 cm×27.9 cm or 603 cm2) or larger may be constructed.
In another aspect the wafer cell may have one or more holes running between and completely through the opposing sides of the cell defining the cell's short dimension. The boundary surface defining any one of said holes preferably does not intersect or touch the boundary surface of any other such hole. The boundary surface defining each hole also does not intersect or touch the cell's outer peripheral edge as defined as the cell's outer edge surface between opposing sides defining the cell's short dimension. In a rectangular wafer cell (cuboid), the holes may desirably be oriented perpendicular to the cell's two opposing parallel sides defining the cell's short dimension therebetween. The holes may be symmetrical or asymmetrical. In particular a hole centrally located along the cell's axis between said two opposing sides of a rectangular wafer cell allows for the wafer cell to be conveniently inserted onto a shaft connected to a device being powered.
A representative wafer alkaline cell 10 of the invention is shown in
It will be appreciated that the opposing laminar surfaces 20′ and 80′ may be of other shapes for example, polygonal, and may also be circular, oval, or of curvilinear or partially curvilinear perimeter of varying surface area. Thus the invention is not intended to be limited to a rectangular cell. Opposing laminar surfaces 20′ and 80′ may be non-parallel. Thus the cell may have a variable thickness, if desired. Opposing laminar surfaces 20′ and 80′ may not be flat. Thus the cell can possess single or double curvature, with constant or variable thickness, if desired. A cell with a single curvature is shown, for example, in
After the cell's laminar structure is formed, for example, as shown in
Preferably the overall thickness of cell 10 is small, for example, between about 0.5 and 6 mm, for example, between about 1.5 and 6 mm, more typically between about 1.5 and 4 mm.
A specific construction of cell 10 (
However, in some instances it may be desirable to apply the lateral film band first and the peripheral band second. The lateral band may comprise a closed loop of film material covering at least a portion of both current collector plate exterior surfaces. Alternatively, the lateral band may comprise a folded piece of film material covering at least a portion of both current collector plate exterior surfaces, being folded over a portion of the edge comprising the thickness dimension of the cell. Alternatively, the lateral band may comprise two separate pieces of film, each one covering at least a portion of each current collector plate exterior surface.
Adhesives or sealants are coated onto or applied to various components at preferred locations. The general type of adhesive and sealants are described and specific preferred ones are specified. However, it will be appreciated that substitutes for the specific adhesives and sealants are possible and accordingly it is not intended that the invention be limited to those given herein. There will be three types of adhesive/sealants used in forming the wafer cell 10 embodiments described herein.
Adhesive A: This is a structural adhesive primarily for imparting holding strength to the components being bonded. It is preferred to employ an epoxy based adhesive for adhesive A. A preferred epoxy adhesive, for example, may consist of a two component epoxy available under the trade designation 2216 from 3M Company. It may also be a single component, heat activated epoxy available under the trade designation non-metallic filled epoxy 2214 from 3M or a UV initiated acrylate adhesive available under the trade designation LC-1211 from 3M or a film adhesive available under the trade designation AF-111 Scotch-Weld film adhesive from 3M.
Adhesive-Sealant B: This is a tacky adhesive which helps to bond components together and also functions as a sealant as well, namely, to seal out and block penetration of alkaline electrolyte. The adhesive-sealant B is preferably applied as a solvent based solution comprising a tacky polyamide. Alternatively, the sealant B may comprise a functionalized polyethylene which is a polyethylene with grafted side groups. A preferred functionalized polyethylene adhesive-sealant is available under the trade name J-43 adhesive from Haerbin Renown Tech. Co. Ltd., China. Alternatively, it may be an asphalt. A preferred sealant B in the form of a solvent based solution comprising a polyamide resin is sold under the trade designation Specseal from Specialty Chemicals Co. Another preferred solvent based solution comprising a tacky polyamide resin is available under the trade names REAMID-100 and VERSAMID-100 (from Henkel Corp. or Cognis Corp.). Such adhesive component is desirably a low molecular weight thermoplastic polyamide resin. Preferred polyamide resins are available under the tradenames REAMID-100 and VERSAMID-100 (from Henkel Corp. or Cognis Corp.). These resins are gels at room temperature that are dimerized fatty acids with molecular weights around 390 and are the reaction products of dimerized fatty acids and diamines. Although higher molecular weight polyamide based adhesive components can be used, the lower weight components are preferred since they are more readily dissolved in the preferred solvent of choice. The adhesive component is dissolved in a solvent to the desired viscosity. Various solvents can be used, such as isopropanol or toluene, as well as mixtures of solvents. Preferably isopropanol is used as the solvent because of its relatively harmless nature when handled. The polyamides have an additional advantage in that they resist chemical attack by potassium hydroxide electrolyte. The adhesive can be applied to cell components employing conventional spray coating techniques including by jet spray method. The adhesive can be applied to provide an adhesive seal between desired surfaces of polymer components, between surfaces of metallic components or between surfaces of polymer and metallic components for the cell.
Adhesive C: This adhesive is used primarily for bonding two plastic components of same or similar plastic material. The preferred adhesive then also has the same polymer base as the plastic material being bonded. For example, if the plastic material being bonded is of high impact polystyrene (HIPS) then the preferred adhesive also contains a polystyrene adhesive resin. Such adhesive can be conveniently applied in the form of a solvent based solution comprising the adhesive resin dissolved in suitable solvent.
In the course of describing the specific embodiments of the invention, the adhesives will be given by reference to the designated adhesive A, B or C as above, unless otherwise indicated.
A preferred anode assembly 30A (
A preferred cathode assembly 70A (
In assembly, current collector sheet 80 may be adhesively bonded to the backside of frame 70 (
The anode assembly 30A may then be adhesively secured to the cathode assembly 70A to form a single laminate cell structure 10 with anode 40 and cathode 60 material facing each other and separator 50 therebetween (
An aspect of the present invention is to design the cell so that there is provided a long leak path for any electrolyte from the cell interior to traverse before it reaches an exterior point of escape. (This is in addition to providing the above described adhesives and adhesive sealants to the various cell components.) Thus, the wafer cell 10 of the invention is designed so frames 30 and 70 (or frame 130 in the case of the single frame embodiment shown in
Preferred discharge rates for cell 10 of the invention, for example, may be as great as about 15 to 45 milliwatts per cm2 (13.5 to 40.5 milliAmp per cm2). (The square centimeter area is based on the area at the anode/cathode interface.) A typical wafer cell 10 of overall dimensions 4 cm width×8 cm length×3 mm thick may accommodate a current drain rate of between about 1 and 1,000 milliAmp, preferably between about 10 milliAmp and 100 milliAmp.
In an alternative embodiment as shown in
The cell 10 has been made in accordance with embodiment shown in
In another preferred wafer cell embodiment (
To effect cell construction for the embodiment employing a single frame (
Adhesive 137 may be a solvent based contact adhesive, for example, contact adhesive available under the trade designation 1357-L from 3M Company or a water-based contact adhesive available under the trade designation 30-NF from 3M. A preferred solvent base adhesive for application to ledge 136 comprises a solution of 10 wt. % high impact polystyrene and 90 wt. % toluene.
Separator sheet, 50, is bonded to recessed ledge 136 by contact adhesive 137. Alternatively, the separator sheet 50, may be welded directly to recessed ledge 136 by heat and pressure, or by ultra-sonics, without employing an adhesive.
Cathode 60 is pressed onto the exposed side of separator sheet 50. The cathode current collector sheet 80 is then applied over cathode 60 so that the edge of current collector sheet 80 contacts the edge of frame 130. The staged adhesives 80 a and 80 b hold the cathode current collector 80 securely bonded to the underside of frame 130 as may be inferred from
Anode, 40 is extruded or pressed onto the opposite exposed side of separator sheet 50. The anode current collector sheet, 20, is then applied over anode, 40, so that the edge of the current collector sheet 20 contacts the edge of the frame 130. The staged adhesives, 130A and 130 b hold the anode current collector 20 securely bonded to the topside of frame 130 as in
A staged seal preferably is applied between outer edge 133 a and inner edge 137 of frame 130. The staged seal may comprise a band of structural adhesive 130 a (Adhesive A as described above) adjacent to the outer edge of the frame and a band of sealant material 130 b (Adhesive-Sealant B) (adjacent to the inner edge of the frame). A single adhesive of homogenous composition may be applied between outer edge 133 a and inner edge 137 of frame 130 instead of the staged seal, however, the staged seal is preferred because it provides a better system for sealing out electrolyte.
A similar staged adhesive may be applied to the opposite side of frame 130 or along the edge of cathode current collector sheet 80. The latter is shown in
By way of a nonlimiting example, for a wafer thin cell 10 (4 mm thickness) having a footprint size of 1.5 inch by 3.0 inch (38.1 mm×76.2 mm) a typical operating current drain may be between about 1 milliAmp to about 2,000 milliAmp, typically between about 10 and 250 milliAmp, more typically between about 10 and 100 milliAmp. It will be appreciated that in general larger size cells 10 of the invention (in terms of their anode/cathode interfacial area, not thickness) will allow the cell to exhibit good performance at higher and higher current drain demands.
In the case of certain types of zinc powder alloys, zinc particle sizes and with certain types of anode current collectors, the anode may produce hydrogen gas faster than it can diffuse to the cathode and be oxidized by the cathode material to form water. Thus, some form of gas management system may be required. In particular, a system to vent the accumulated hydrogen gas may be needed. This could for example take the form of a tube of gas permeable polymer having a porous insert disposed throughout its length, the tube traversing the anode cavity and terminating beyond the outer edge of the plastic frame, similar to that disclosed by Polaroid Corporation in U.S. Pat. No. 4,105,831.
The sealing properties at the interface between the anode current collector sheet 20 and plastic anode frame 30 can be improved by precoating the inside surface of an anode current collector sheet with a thin layer of a sealing metal before adhesives, are applied to bond the anode current collector sheet 20 to the plastic frame 30. Thus, instead of contacting the anode current collector surface directly, adhesives such as the above mentioned staged adhesives 20 a and 20 b, will contact the sealing metal 300 (
Although the above described wafer cell embodiments
As described above one or more adhesives, for examples, staged adhesive seal 20 a and 20 b (
It has been determined that the sealing properties at the interface between the anode current collector sheet 20 and plastic anode frame 30 can be improved by precoating the inside surface of anode current collector 20 with a thin layer of a sealing metal 300 (
By way of example, if the anode current collector sheet 20 is of copper, brass, bronze, tin or zinc, as above enumerated, then magnesium, zirconium or titanium is a preferred sealing metal to be precoated onto that portion of the anode current collector surface in contact with the adhesives, e.g. staged adhesives 20 a and 20 b, bonding the plastic anode frame 30 to the anode current collector sheet 20. (Magnesium or zirconium has been determined to be a particularly preferred sealing metal for current collector sheets of copper or brass.) Thus, the adhesive, whether a homogenous adhesive or a staged adhesive is used to bond the plastic anode frame to the anode current collector sheet, said adhesive will be in direct contact with the magnesium or zirconium sealing metal precoated onto the facing surface (normally the inside surface) of the current collector sheet. Such interface between the sealing metal coating and the adhesive appears to withstand degradation over long periods of time (for example, multiple years) thus preserving the bond between the plastic anode frame and anode current collector sheet of the alkaline wafer cell better than if the anode current collector sheet were not precoated with the sealing metal.
Although magnesium or zirconium are preferred sealing metals 300 for use in the context of the alkaline wafer cell 10 of the invention, other metals can also be used in similar manner as a precoat on the anode current collector surface before adhesive is applied thereto to bond the plastic anode frame to the current collector. Such list of sealing metals include magnesium (Mg), zirconium (Zr), titanium (Ti), hafnium (Hf), scandium (Sc), and yttrium (Y) and the lanthanide series elements (La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Pm, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, Lu). Of these elements magnesium (Mg), titanium (Ti), zirconium (Zr), hafnium (Hf), and yttrium (Y) are preferred considering the overall factors of availability, function, and cost.
The sealing metal may be applied to the inside surface of anode current collector sheet 20 in a uniform thickness of between about 0.10 to 50.0 micron, typically between about 1 and 5 micron, for example, about 3 micron. Alternatively, the anode current collector sheet 20 may itself be formed of the sealing metal. In such case the anode current collector sheet may typically have a thickness of between about 6 and 10 mils (0.152 and 0.254 mm).
Although the preferred sealing metals 300 are in their pure elemental form, it is not intended to restrict the sealing metal to pure metals, since alloys of the sealing metal, for example, alloys of magnesium (Mg), zirconium (Zr), titanium (Ti), hafnium (Hf), scandium (Sc), and yttrium (Y), may also be employed. In such case it is preferred to have the pure sealing metal, for example, magnesium or zirconium or combination thereof as a major component of the alloy. However, benefits can also be realized if the pure sealing metal is a minor component of the alloy. By way of non limiting example, specific alloys of magnesium which are desirable are as follows: Homogeneous alloy 2% Mg, balance Cu or homogeneous alloy 5% Mg, balance Cu, or Alloy 4800 A (Belmont Metals, New York, N.Y.) containing 20% Mg, balance Cu.
Conventional techniques can be used to coat the surface of anode current collector sheet 20 or cathode current collector sheet 80 with the sealing metal. Such conventional techniques include for example, vacuum deposition, sputtering, ion plating, plasma deposition, jet assisted plasma deposition, sintering, cold metal spraying, detonation gun spraying, high velocity oxygen fuel spraying, electroplating (from non-aqueous electrolyte) or hot dipping (dipping the anode current collector sheet into a bath of the molten sealing metal).
It has been determined that coating a sealing metal 300 onto the anode current collector sheet 20, preserves the adhesive bond between collector sheet 20 and plastic frame 30 better in an alkaline environment than if the current collector sheets 20 were not so coated. This is believed due at least in part to the fact that the native oxide metal film formed by such sealing metal coating is essentially insoluble in alkaline electrolyte. Therefore, the adhesive bond which chemically involves such native oxide resists degradation even when exposed to an alkaline environment. Alternatively, the anode current collector sheet 20 may itself be formed of the sealing metal or alloys thereof. Additionally, the above enumerated sealing metals have the property that their oxides and hydroxides are not reduced in the presence of anode active material such as zinc. Such property also serves to preserve the strength and uniformity of the interfacial bond between the anode current collector sheet 20 and plastic frame 30 (
Various embodiments of the anode assembly 30A (
The sealing metal coating 300 (
A preferred current collector sheet 20 shown in
Alternatively, a portion of the magnesium layer 300 may be exposed away from the polymeric film 250 and may protrude from the cell edge to form a negative terminal contact tab 310 as shown in
Other embodiments are possible wherein the anode current collector 20 is formed of a film laminate comprising at least one polymeric film layer and at least one multilayered metallic sheet thereon. The multilayered metallic sheet may comprise a metallic base film consisting essentially of a non-sealing metal and a coating thereon consisting essentially of a sealing metal covering at least a portion of the metallic base film.
The preceding embodiments were described with respect to use of sealing metals in the seal structure of flat alkaline cells having laminate construction, namely, non-crimped seals and flat negative current collectors. However, it will be understood that conventional alkaline cell constructions which employ rod, cylinder or cupped shaped anode (negative) current collectors may also advantageously employ sealing metals to improve seal integrity. In such constructions, the sealing metals are situated on the surface of the negative current collector, opposite the insulating sealing member (e.g., plastic insulating grommet or seal washer), with various sealants or adhesives disposed therebetween. Optionally, in such conventional alkaline cell constructions, e.g. cylindrical or button cells, where a crimping force is applied between the negative current collector and insulating grommet within the seal assembly, adhesives or sealants may be omitted entirely. In this case the negative current collector may desirably be precoated with the sealing metal or may itself be composed of the sealing metal. The insolubility and non-reducibility of the sealing metal native oxide or hydroxide films on the surface of the current collector will improve seal integrity, even in the absence of a supplemental sealant-adhesive application.
Thus the improvement in bonding the anode (negative) current collector to a portion of the insulating seal member (negative pass through portion) derived by employing a sealing metal therebetween is intended to apply to alkaline cells in general regardless of configuration. (In the embodiment described in
For example, the portion of the elongated anode current collector nail 15 which passes through the insulating seal member 12 (plastic top) in the cylindrical alkaline cell shown in representative U.S. Pat. No. 4,740,435, can be precoated with the sealing metal of the present invention before said current collector nail 15 is bonded to the insulating sealing member 12 with asphalt sealant 17 (or equivalent). In the zinc/air button cell shown, for example, in U.S. patent publication 2002-0192545-A1 the portion of the outer surface of the anode casing side walls 163 (anode current collector) abutting the insulating seal member 172 could be precoated with the sealing metal of the present invention before the anode casing 163 is bonded to said insulating sealing member. The preferred sealing metal for such purpose as herein described is magnesium, zirconium, and titanium, but the sealing metal can also be selected from the above defined list.
By precoating said portion of the anode current collector (negative feed through portion) with the above defined sealing metal, particularly magnesium, zirconium, or titanium, the adhesive bond between anode current collector and insulating member is more alkaline resistant and generally resists degradation better over time than if that portion of the anode current collector were not so precoated with sealing metal. Alternatively, the anode current collector itself as a whole or the portion being bonded to the insulating member may itself be formed of the sealing metal. In this manner the adhesive seal between anode current collector and insulating member is improved and the chance of electrolyte leakage therethrough is reduced.
To improve the electrical contact qualities of the exterior negative terminal of the battery, that portion of the sealing metal surface which covers or constitutes the negative contact terminal, or fraction thereof, may be plated or coated with another metal having superior contact properties such as copper or nickel.
To lower the gassing rate from any portion of the sealing metal surface which directly contacts the negative active material or may be directly exposed to cell electrolyte inside the cell, e.g. zinc and KOH electrolyte, that portion of the sealing metal surface, or any fraction thereof, may be coated with another metal, which may under some circumstances have lower gassing characteristics than the sealing metal itself. For example, such other metal may be copper, tin, indium, zinc or alloys thereof.
Other embodiments of the invention are possible wherein the sealing metal, for example, magnesium or zirconium or any of the above named sealing metals can also be coated with compounds containing the same sealing metal, other than oxide or hydroxide, which are insoluble in alkaline electrolytes and are not reduced by zinc anode active material. For example, a sealing metal such as magnesium whether used in the form of an anode current collector sheet 20 or used as a coating on an anode current collector sheet such as copper or brass, can itself be coated with a protective layer. Such protective layer may be a magnesium fluoride (MgF2) film applied by vacuum evaporation techniques, such as those used to overcoat optical components.
Also other configurations for the wafer cell 10 are possible and within the concept of the present invention. For example, the wafer cell 10 may have a continuous hole (not shown) through its center wherein such hole runs along the cell's short dimension between and completely through the opposing sides 20′ and 80′. (Sides 20′ and 80′ define the cell's short dimension therebetween as shown in
The wafer cell 10 could have a plurality of such continuous holes running between and completely through the cell's two opposing sides 20′ and 80′. The holes may be of same size or different size and may be symmetrically or asymmetrically located. Specifically, a wafer cell 10 embodiment having an anode frame 30 and separate cathode frame 70 (
The wafer cell 10 has an outer perimeter surface, for example, surfaces 110 a, 110 b, 110 c, and 110 d as shown in
The following description of cell composition regarding chemical composition of anode 40, cathode 60 and separator 50 is applicable to the representative wafer cell 10 disclosed in the above described embodiment.
In the above described cell 10, the cathode 60 comprises manganese dioxide and electrolyte, and an anode 40 comprises zinc, gelling agent and electrolyte. The aqueous electrolyte comprises a conventional mixture of KOH and zinc oxide. The anode material 40 can be in the form of a gelled mixture containing mercury free (zero-added mercury) zinc alloy powder. That is, the cell has a total mercury content less than about 100 parts per million parts (ppm) of zinc by weight, preferably less than 50 parts mercury per million parts of zinc by weight. The cell also preferably does not contain any added amounts of lead and thus is essentially lead-free, that is, the total lead content is less than 30 ppm, desirably less than 15 ppm of the total zinc in the anode. Such mixtures can typically contain aqueous KOH electrolyte solution, a gelling agent (e.g., an acrylic acid copolymer available under the tradename CARBOPOL C940 from Noveon (formerly from B.F. Goodrich)), and surfactants (e.g., organic phosphate ester-based surfactants available under the tradename GAFAC RA600 from Rhône Poulenc). Such a mixture is given only as an illustrative example and is not intended to restrict the present invention. Other representative gelling agents for zinc anodes are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,563,404.
The cathode 60 for application to cell 10 of the invention is desirably a soft or semisolid cathode of the type described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,207,322 B1 incorporated herein by reference. However, it will be appreciated that more conventional solid manganese dioxide cathodes, e.g., having manganese dioxide content between about 87 and 93 percent by cathode weight could also be used. Nevertheless, it has been determined that the soft or semisolid cathode is desirable for application to the wafer cell of the invention because it can be readily molded into the cavity 73 b within cathode frame 70. Moreover, such soft or semisolid cathode in the context of the adhesively secured cell of the invention is preferred, since it has been found to maintain close and uniform contact with the exposed surface of the cathode current collector 80 during the life of the cell. In the adhesively laminated cell 10 of the invention there are no strong compressive forces to hold a solid cathode in close and uniform contact with the cathode current collector and such contact may relax somewhat with time. Thus the soft or semisoft cathode is preferred.
The term “semisolid” as used herein is intended to broadly cover all physical states which are intermediate in property between true solid and true liquid. Thus, the term semisolid is intended to include (for example, but not by way of limitation) physical states having the soft texture and Theological properties commonly associated with putties and pastes. The semisolid material as used herein includes (for example, but not by way of any limitation) materials that are not free flowing as is a liquid but generally requires an external force in order to cause the material to move through a conduit. The term semisolid is also intended (for example, but not by way of any limitation) to apply to materials which are extrudable and which can be deformed without fracturing upon exertion of external pressure.
The desired semisolid cathode 60 for use in the wafer cell of the present invention can have the properties and range of composition as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,207,322 B1 incorporated herein as follows:
Thus, the semisolid cathode 60 for cell 10 of the invention desirably comprises manganese dioxide in amount which is less than 80 percent by weight of the cathode and preferably between about 40 and 80 percent by weight, typically between about 45 and 78, more typically between about 45 and 70 percent by weight of the cathode. The semisolid cathode comprising manganese dioxide may be in the form of a putty or paste or a highly viscous material having a measurable viscosity.
The soft cathode 60 typically comprises MnO2 (EMD) between about 45 and 78 wt. % of the cathode, more typically between about 45 and 70 percent by weight of the cathode, carbon black (Shawingan acetylene black or more preferably a graphitized carbon black such as MM 131 or MM 179 from Timcal, Belgium, as described in WO9703133), and aqueous KOH electrolyte solution (7-9 Normal). Preferably a small amount of graphite is also added. Advantageously, the carbon black preferably comprises between about 4 and 15 percent by weight of the semisolid cathode. The carbon black increases the conductivity of the semisolid cathode and provides an internal network to maintain the cathode in a semisolid state. The carbon black also acts as an electrolyte absorber and immobilizes the alkaline electrolyte solution so that free, fluid electrolyte is not evident. The graphite may comprise between about 1% and 10% weight percent of the cathode and improves the cathode conductivity. Desirably the semisolid cathode of the invention also comprises electrolyte solution comprising potassium hydroxide. The semisolid cathode may also comprise a binder such as polytetrafluroethylene, desirably comprising between about 0 and 2 percent by weight of the cathode. Optionally, less than 2 wt. % of a clay such as Laponite RDS clay from Southern Clay Products Company may be added to adjust the consistency.
The semisolid cathode 60 may have a porosity between about 30 and 70%, preferably between about 35 and 70%, more preferably between about 40 and 70%. Porosity here is taken to mean the volume fraction of the cathode comprised of non-solid materials, i.e. electrolyte+air. The semisolid cathode 60 may desirably also have a higher electrolyte content as a weight percent of total cathode than conventionally employed in solid MnO2 containing cathodes for alkaline cells. The semisolid cathode material 60 may have a KOH content (pure) of between about 6 and 18 percent by weight of total cathode material and a total water content between about 9 and 27 percent by weight. The term KOH (pure) as used herein and in the examples with respect to KOH is the pure, anhydrous KOH content (i.e., without water) for calculation purposes.
The cathode porosity may be calculated by determining the volume occupied by electrolyte, other liquids and entrapped air (including volume of liquid and air entrapped within the pores of solids) and dividing that volume by the apparent volume of the cathode and multiplying by 100. (The apparent volume is the overall volume of a sample as contained within the external boundary of the sample.) The cathode porosity may be conveniently calculated by first obtaining the real density of each of the solids by conventional helium displacement method, before the solids are mixed into the cathode. (The real density of each solid is the solid sample weight divided by its real volume, that is, the solids sample apparent volume reduced by the volume occupied by entrapped air.) The respective weight of solids to be mixed into the cathode is then divided by their respective real densities to obtain the real volume of the solids in the cathode. The real volume of the solids is subtracted from the apparent volume of the cathode as a whole and this difference is divided by the cathode apparent volume×100 to yield porosity, percent.
The electrolytic manganese dioxide typically has an average particle size between about 1 and 100 micron, desirably between about 20 and 60 micron. The graphite is typically in the form of natural, synthetic or expanded graphite or mixtures thereof. The graphite can also comprise graphitic carbon nanofibers alone or in admixture with natural, synthetic or expanded graphite. Such cathode mixtures are intended to be illustrative and are not intended to restrict this invention.
The anode material 40 comprises: Zinc alloy powder 62 to 72 wt % (99.9 wt % zinc containing 200 to 500 ppm indium as alloy and plated material), an aqueous KOH solution comprising 38 wt % KOH and about 2 wt % ZnO; a cross-linked acrylic acid polymer gelling agent available commercially under the tradename “CARBOPOL C940” from Noveon (e.g., 0.5 to 2 wt %) and optionally a hydrolyzed poly-acrylonitrile grafted onto a starch backbone commercially available commercially under the tradename “Waterlock A-221” from Grain Processing Co. (between 0.01 and 0.5 wt. %); organic phosphate ester surfactant RA-600 or dionyl phenol phosphate ester surfactant available under the tradename RM-510 from Rhone-Poulenc (between 10 and 100 ppm). The term zinc as used herein shall be understood to include zinc alloy powder which comprises a very high concentration of zinc, for example, at least 99.9 percent by weight zinc. Such zinc alloy material functions electrochemically essentially as pure zinc.
In respect to anode 40 of the laminar alkaline cell 10 of the invention, the zinc powder mean average particle size is desirably between about 1 and 350 micron, desirably between about 1 and 250 micron, preferably between about 20 and 250 micron. Typically, the zinc powder may have a mean average particle size of about 150 micron. The zinc particles in anode 40 can be of acicular or spherical shape. The bulk density of the zinc in the anode is between about 1.75 and 2.2 grams zinc per cubic centimeter of anode. The percent by volume of the aqueous electrolyte solution in the anode is preferably between about 69.2 and 75.5 percent by volume of the anode.
The cell 10 can be balanced in the conventional manner so that the mAmp-hr capacity of EMD (based on 410 mamp-hr per gram EMD) divided by the mAmp-hr capacity of zinc (based on 820 mAmp-hr. per gram zinc) is about 1. However deep discharge bulging can be reduced by balancing the cell so that the cathode is in excess. Thus, cell 10 can be balanced so that the total theoretical capacity of the EMD divided by the total theoretical capacity of the zinc is between about 1.03 and 1.10, desirably between about 1.05 and 1.08, preferably around 1.07 to reduce cell bulging.
A test cell 10 of square configuration as shown in
(9 Normal KOH)
1The zinc particles had a mean average particle size of about 150 micron and were alloyed and plated with indium to yield a total indium content of about 200 ppm.
2Organic phosphate ester-based surfactant solution RM 510 from Rhône Poulenc, 3% by wt. in H2O.
3The electrolyte solution contained gelling agents Waterlock A221 and Carbopol C940 comprising in total about 1.5 wt. % of the electrolyte solution and about 2 wt. % ZnO.
Soft (Semisolid) Cathode Composition #1:
(Trona D from
(Grafmax MP12 du
(9 Normal KOH)
1Grafmax MP12 du natural graphite from Nacional De Grafite.
The anode plastic frame was composed of HIPS (high impact polystyrene) plastic material and had thickness of about 0.76 mm. The cathode plastic frame was composed of HIPS plastic material and had thickness of about 1.52 mm. The separator 50 comprised a non-woven sheet of polyvinylalcohol fibers laminated to a cellophane film. The cathode had 1.61 grams of MnO2. The anode, cathode, electrolyte and separator comprised about 37 percent of the external volume the cell.
The cell was discharged in the following manner which gives an indication of the cell's performance over a spectrum of power demands.
The fresh cell 10 was first discharged at a power drain of 500 milliwatts (454 milliAmp) to a cut off voltage of about 0.6 Volt. The measured capacity was 37.1 milliwatt-hrs. The cell was rested for 1 hour and the same cell was then discharged at a rate of 250 milliwatts (227 milliAmp) to a cut off voltage of 0.6 volt. The measured incremental capacity for this drain was 100.4 milliwatt hours. The cell was rested for 1 hour and the same cell was then discharged at a rate of 100 milliwatts (90.9 milliAmp) to a cut off voltage of 0.6 volt. The measured incremental capacity for this drain was 90.19 milliwatt hours. The same cell was then incrementally discharged at 15 milliwatts, 10 milliwatts, and 5 milliwatts to 0.6 Volt cutoff, with 1 hour rest between each discharge. The incremental capacities the last three discharges was 30.99, 106.28, and 8.87 milliWatt-hours, respectively.
After the discharge test was completed, the cell was examined for bulging and leakage. It was determined that the cell expanded by about 10 percent in overall thickness, that is from a thickness of about 2.8 mm to 3.1 mm. There was no discernible electrolyte leakage.
A test cell 10 of square configuration as shown in
The magnesium anode current collector sheet 20 was secured and sealed to the backside of a high impact polystyrene (HIPS) plastic frame 30 (
In a similar manner, a cathode assembly 70A (
A soft (semisolid) cathode of the following composition was prepared:
Soft (Semisolid) Cathode Composition #2:
(Trona D from Kerr McGee)
(MM131 graphitized carbon black
from Timcal Belgium)
(9 Normal KOH)
3.640 g of this soft cathode was pasted into the interior space 73 b within frame 70.
The anode assembly 30A of
After assembly the OCV of the cell was measured to be 1.558V. The cell was then stored at 60° C.
Examination after 40 days storage at this temperature indicated no leakage or delamination where the magnesium current collector sheet 20 had been secured and sealed to the backside the plastic frame 30. (The cell storage at 60° C. for about 40 days is estimated to be equivalent to storage at ambient temperature (22° C.) of about 1 to 2 years.)
The cell of this example 2 comprising a magnesium sheet sealing metal for the anode current collector stored at least two weeks longer at 60° C. (before any electrolyte leakage was detected from the joint formed between the anode collector 20 and the plastic anode frame 30) than fresh cells of example 1 which did not contain a sealing metal in the anode current collector.
A cell was prepared as described in Test Cell Example 2 but using 0.01 inches (0.25 mm) mm thick zirconium foil (99.5% metals basis) as anode current collector sheet 20 instead of the magnesium foil of Example 2. The cell was assembled with 1.68 g of anode material 40 and 3.131 g of soft cathode 60. All other cell components were the same as described in Example 2.
After assembly the OCV of the cell was measured to be 1.556V. The cell was then stored at 60° C.
Examination after 40 days storage at this temperature indicated no leakage or delamination where the zirconium current collector sheet 20 had been secured and sealed to the backside of the high impact polystyrene (HIPS) plastic frame 30. (The cell storage at 60° C. for about 40 days is estimated to be equivalent to storage at ambient temperature (22° C.) of about 1 to 2 years.)
The cell of this example 3 comprising a zirconium sheet sealing metal for the anode current collector stored at least two weeks longer at 60° C. (before any electrolyte leakage was detected from the joint formed between the anode collector 20 and the plastic anode frame 30 ) than fresh cells of example 1 which did not contain a sealing metal in the anode current collector.
Utilizing the design principles herein disclosed, thin alkaline cells of very large area, e.g. 8.5 in×11 in or 93.5 in2 (approx. 21.6 cm×27.9 cm or 603 cm2) or larger may be constructed. Other embodiments of the invention involving more complex frame designs are within the concept of the invention. For example, wafer cells can also be constructed with interior partitions or ribs within the frames, thus subdividing the interior of the anode frame or cathode frame into multiple volumes. By attaching these interior ribs to the endplates with adhesives, staged seals (sealant coating and adhesive coating in side by side arrangement) or sealant plus rivets, the overall cell structure can be mechanically reinforced to give greater stiffness and resistance to flexure. This feature will be especially useful for cells having a large area, providing extra protection to the outermost, peripheral seals against failure due to shear or peeling, caused by bending or twisting of the cell envelope.
Although the preferred embodiments of the invention have been described with respect to specific embodiments it will be appreciated that other embodiments are possible and are within the claims.
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|U.S. Classification||429/162, 429/185, 429/206, 429/245, 429/209|
|International Classification||H01M4/64, H01M4/42, H01M6/04, H01M2/02, H01M6/12, H01M2/16, H01M4/24, H01M4/50|
|Cooperative Classification||Y02P70/54, H01M2/08, H01M2/0275, H01M10/0436, H01M4/42, H01M2/0267, Y02E60/124, H01M2/0277, H01M4/50, H01M2/06, H01M2/0207, H01M6/12, H01M4/661, H01M4/667, H01M4/244, H01M4/246, H01M4/668, H01M6/40, H01M2/168, H01M2/32, H01M2/1653|
|European Classification||H01M2/08, H01M2/06, H01M4/66A, H01M2/32, H01M10/04F, H01M6/40, H01M2/02E8, H01M2/02E12, H01M2/02E14, H01M4/66K2, H01M6/12, H01M4/50, H01M4/24C, H01M4/42, H01M4/24D|
|Aug 9, 2004||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: THE GILLETTE COMPANY, MASSACHUSETTS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BOULTON, JONATHAN M.;DAVIS, STUART M.;CINTRA, GEORGE;ANDOTHERS;REEL/FRAME:015673/0464;SIGNING DATES FROM 20040804 TO 20040806
|Oct 4, 2012||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Feb 26, 2016||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: DURACELL U.S. OPERATIONS, INC., DELAWARE
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:THE GILLETTE COMPANY;REEL/FRAME:037931/0489
Effective date: 20160225